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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Fool For Love - A Theater Review

I saw the Sam Shepard play Fool For Love yesterday on Broadway. I liked it a lot, I loved the raw Western vibe in it, with two on-and-off lovers in a nowheresville motel room in the Mojave Desert tangled up in their tumultuous relationship, yet still attracted to one another amidst tearing each other apart. More so, May is tired of Eddie playing head games with her for 15 years, and Eddie comes to the motel room to insist on taking her back, like she is his property to retrieve. I had seen the 1985 film version about ten years ago, and really enjoyed seeing the story revisited in live theater.

Nina Arianda was excellent as May. I knew of her as a Broadway star, but thought of her from Born Yesterday, a perky upbeat type. She was really good in playing a Southern woman who had nothing and was on the edge of losing it when her ex shows up. She had a lot of fire in this role, and played her character with a lot of grit and rawness. Like in her gestures of pushing back her hair, holing herself up in the bathroom, packing her suitcase quickly while her ex is out of the room, and fixing irritated stares.

Sam Rockwell was really good in this as Eddie, totally getting into the cowboy part and bringing some menace to it, like swinging his lasso while singing "Clementine" in a quietly threatening way in front of his ex. He even shoehorned some dancing and a split in this, because Rockwell dances in almost everything he is in. He does use his physicality to his advantages, like sliding along the floor, scootching himself under a bed, or reclining against a bed while getting half-drunk and mocking his ex's new suitor.

The other two actors did well, too. Tom Pelphrey did really well as the hapless, confused suitor Martin, who is nice but kind of dim, and easily believes whatever story he is told, which often sparks a debate of truth vs. fiction. Gordon Joseph Weiss as the old man did well too, but I preferred Harry Dean Stanton's performance from the movie.

I am happy I saw it, and the two women next to me said they met Arianda by chance at dinner before the show, as she was having dinner with her parents. I shared my stories of me and my sister meeting Rockwell (my sister actually talked to him, I just saw him but was too shy to approach him), so it was a fun exchange.

The play will have a limited run, from now to December 6th, and I highly recommend it for the solid acting, intense drama, and the Western motif.

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